PASCO -- Tri-City residents not only will see stars in the sky, but also stars of the United States space program during the Dec. 5 opening of the new planetarium at Columbia Basin College in Pasco.
Astronauts Charlie Duke and Story Musgrave will be on hand for the dedication and also will meet with Mid-Columbia students during a two-day period.
"This will be a wonderful opportunity for children to meet a real astronaut," said Kate Holloway, marketing director for the Mid-Columbia Libraries, in an email.
Duke served in NASA's Apollo program and is among the 12 Americans to walk on the moon.
Musgrave flew on all five space shuttles, and one of his six missions was the first repair of the Hubble Space Telescope.
Mike Durst, director of CBC's Moore Observatory, said he reached out to Duke and Musgrave a few years ago when the community college first looked at building a planetarium.
"Not only did they both willingly (support it), but they were excited about it," Durst told the Herald.
Musgrave and Duke have visited the region before -- Duke in 2008 and Musgrave in 2010 -- to drum up excitement for the $1.2 million planetarium, which broke ground this summer.
The planetarium is in a renovated classroom building on the Pasco campus and will be used by CBC's astronomy department as well as a tool to interest children in science.
Both men will speak with 600 schoolchildren the morning of Dec. 4 in the Gjerde Center at the community college.
Duke and Musgrave then will attend the planetarium dedication -- which is free and open to the public -- before visiting with CBC students in the HUB and a school in the Pasco School District.
That evening, Musgrave has a public talk scheduled for the Mid-Columbia Libraries' Kennewick branch on Union Street.
Filmmaker Jeffrey Roth also will be on hand for the dedication, CBC officials said, and the planetarium will show two of his films Dec. 5, The Wonder of It All and 41.